Helena all-stars collect hardware

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ALABASTER &8212; Helena made a case to be nicknamed the “Baseball County Seat” of Shelby County Sunday, as they captured three first-place finishes and one second place in the USSSA All-Star championships at Veterans Park.

Grant Clayton allowed three runs through five innings on the mound in the 10-year-old championship game to lead Helena past Pelham 9-5 for its third championship of the day.

&8220;It was pretty much nip and tuck,&8221; said Keith Gospodareck, head coach of the Helena 10-year-olds.

Helena picked up championship wins earlier in the afternoon Sunday with a 17-4 victory over Alabaster in the 7-year-old division and a 3-1 win in the 12-year-old division.

Helena rallied back after losing to Trussville 6-4 earlier in the tournament to beat Alabaster and take a 3-1 decision over Trussville in the 12-year-olds&8217; final.

&8220;It&8217;s incredibly exciting for us,&8221; said Bobby Coats, head coach of the 12-year-old team, of his team&8217;s win and the city&8217;s wins.

&8220;I wouldn&8217;t want to play anywhere else. In Helena they have the right idea of what baseball is all about.&8221; Coats said.

A sweep was just out of reach for Helena, as they fell 11-10 to McCalla in the 8-year-old division title game. After finishing as the No. 1 seed in pool play, Helena overcame a close semifinal game with Pelham. Jake Busby drove in two runs with in the bottom of the sixth to win 11-10 and advance to the final.

Pelham had one title hope remaining with the 9-year-old team, who fell behind 4-2 to McCalla early. However an 11-run top of the sixth inning helped Pelham pull away for a 26-15 victory.

&8220;The kids stepped up and played,&8221; said Pelham head coach Dan Whitman.

Mason Whitman started the game for the young Pelham pitching staff, as Cole Whitman came in to pitch three innings, followed by an inning for Lucas Burnett.

Cole Whitman also pitched a complete game win over Alabaster, 21-1.

Oak Mountain 11-year-olds captured a championship as well, with a 4-3 victory over Mountain Brook